Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring Visitors - 2 (part 1)

My next visitor was Martha, whom I have known since I worked at Novant Health in the mid 90s.  She arrived in the afternoon of Tuesday, April 16 and departed May 25.  Her first evening she and Amanda went out to dinner together while I went off to teach class. So our visit really started Wednesday morning. We started with a trip to Herestrau Park.  We were looking for bicycles to rent, but learned they would not be available until May 1.  And so we walked...

Emerging from the park, we encountered the Press building, a 1956 Stalinist structure that looms over that corner of Bucharest.
The sculpture in front is an abstract intended to evoke Romania's intersection with the rest of Europe.  It replaces a statue of Stalin...

From the park we went to the market at Obor.  While the fresh fruits and vegetables were bright and plentiful, we were also interested in the fish market.
Thursday we toured the Palace of the Parliament.  One must pay a fee to take pictures inside, which Martha did, so what follows are hers...

Stefan cel Mare (Steven the Great), the one whose street and Metro stop we are living closest to, is the one in the center front of the arrangement (far left in the picture).

The building has, indeed some fine workmanship and there are many details that are visually beautiful.  I am intrigued by the facts that most of the materials are native to Romania, that it is second only to the Pentagon in area, and that when one finishes the tour one has covered 2 or 3 km of walking, but has seen less than 10% of the whole.  All this is true and yet, knowing as I do that people in Romania were literally starving during the time of its building, that Ceaucescu ordered many fine historic buildings and homes razed in order to have the area for his vision, and that craftsmen and women were ordered into creating what they did, I cannot enjoy the building. 

Thursday evening we attended the Blue Ball (see blog post on Autism Awareness month).

On Friday, Natalia, a friend of Martha's from Moldovia, arrived to visit.  After a welcome breakfast of American French toast, the two of them went off for the day while I took care of a few others things (and in the afternoon attended Amanda's panel discussion - again, see blog on autism).  We caught up later that evening at a concert at the Athenaeum, one of Bucharest's most beautiful buildings in my humble opinion.  In the main concert hall, there is a marvelous fresco depicting the history of Romania (described here).

Saturday, Natalia, Martha, and I roamed around downtown Bucharest a bit more.  I have passed the urban art depicted in the next two pictures numerous times, but it wasn't until Natalia stopped to talk about it that I really took notice.  It is clearly protesting the lack of natural surroundings and the destruction of the environment in building the city (with additional graffiti at the bottom).  Natalia has visited Bucharest numerous times and says she especially enjoys seeking out unusual aspects of the city.

I also like it when I can observe the contrasts that make up Bucharest as clearly as in the picture above.

One of the sights we happened upon - unusual for tourists, but common for the populace - was a baby's baptism.  We had gone into the church simply to see its artwork and were invited to observe and even photograph the baptism ceremony.  The baby was happy enough playing with the crucifix the priest was waving about, but squalled loudly when undressed for full immersion.  I felt lucky to be a part of this family's joy that day.
Yet another church...

with a lovely painting of the archangel Gabriel...

We parted from Natalia in the early afternoon as she had other places to go and people to see.  Martha and I wandered the city, slowly making our way back to the peasant museum and the book studio.  I introduced her to Razvan and shared a little of the progress we are making on the edition of "Romanian Doors".  I am very pleased with the progress and expect we will have all 30 books completed by mid-May.

And then we walked home...

On Sunday we traveled to Brasov to begin our 2-day hike...  Continued in Part 2.


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